|Stat man: The Jared Sullinger-Kelly Olynyk combo||10.08.13 at 10:29 am ET|
The debut of the much anticipated Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk frontcourt combination — one to which Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge even admitted his intrigue — didn’t come until midway through the second quarter of the team’s first preseason game. And even then only lasted 8:29 in spurts.
Based on the early returns, we’ll be seeing a lot more of the Sully-O clinic early and often. Actually, don’t be surprised if that duo with 45 NBA games between them ultimately takes over the starting 4 and 5 spots.
“I don’t have a plus/minus report right now, so I don’t know,” said coach Brad Stevens after his first game on the Celtics sidelines, a 97-89 loss to the Raptors, “but I thought they played pretty well together.”
When Stevens took a look at that report and watched film later Monday night — his self-imposed requirement before sleeping — he discovered this: Olynyk and Sullinger owned a plus-7 rating, combining for 10 points (4-8 FG), four assists and three rebounds in their 8:29 on the floor together. Of the nine Celtics field goals in those 509 seconds, the rookie and the sophomore either scored or assisted on seven of them.
When Stevens added Gerald Wallace to that frontcourt mix — forming a complementary trio of flair, hair and derriere that the coach has praised throughout training camp — the production was unmistakable.
|Rudy Gay: Rajon Rondo ‘will be stronger than ever’||at 1:34 am ET|
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo might not share his thoughts on the last eight months with the Boston media, but he’s certainly opened to his friends, including Raptors star Rudy Gay, the recipient of Rondo’s greatest alley-oop pass. Not that Gay, who included Rondo in his wedding over the summer, is going to share that info, either.
“If he’s not telling, then I’m not telling,” said Gay, who just finished scoring 17 points on 11 shots in an efficient 23:12 during a 97-89 victory against the Rondo-less Celtics in Boston. “He’s working his hardest to get back. He’s not the type of guy to take a day off. He’s worried about the team, and he’s worried about himself.”
While it may be strange for Celtics fans to see their team without Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, it’s not all that weird for guys like Gay, who entered the league when Pierce’s Celtics won 24 games in 2006-07. Since then, he’s seen LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, James Harden, David Lee, Zach Randolph, Tyson Chandler and Jrue Holiday — each All-Stars last season — swap uniforms.
As Gay described it, “Listen, man, the league changes every year.” And he should know. The Grizzlies sent him to Toronto just last year. Really, the departure of Pierce and Garnett is nothing new in today’s NBA, so don’t you think Rondo eventually realized that, too? In fact, Gay believes Rondo will ultimately flourish without them.
|Jeff Green: The [expletive] mentality is coming||at 12:35 am ET|
Jeff Green is embracing the mentality with which Kevin Garnett encouraged him to play. Just as he did on Media Day, the de facto Celtics star cut right to the point when a reporter approached the subject delicately.
“[Expletive]-hole? It’s coming. I didn’t bring it tonight, obviously, the way I played, but it’s coming. It’s coming.”
In his first game as the focal point in the Celtics offense, Green struggled in the C’s 97-89 preseason loss to the Raptors, scoring just six points on 2-of-7 shooting (0-4 3P) and committing as many turnovers (3) as he totaled assists (2) and rebounds (1) in his 23:17 on the floor. Did he sense the added attention from the Raptors?
“Most definitely,” said Green. “The rotations weren’t solid. It was tough to get a rhythm, but you can definitely sense where the attention is headed. So, I’ve just got to look at film and see where I can attack and take my shots.”
First thing he’ll notice: a lack of transition buckets. Of Green’s seven shots, five came from outside 20 feet. He took two shots from the paint — a miss 2:18 into the game and a fourth-quarter dunk that cut Toronto’s lead to 89-86 with 4:15 remaining. In other words, he played a span 41:03 without being an [expletive]-hole.
“Like I said, we’re still learning. It’s only been seven days and a couple practices. This is our first preseason games. We’ve got three more this week, so we’ve just got to continue to practice and continue to do better.
|Fast Break: Raptors spoil Brad Stevens’ Celtics debut||10.07.13 at 9:58 pm ET|
The new-look Celtics may have lost their preseason debut, but the defeat wasn’t entirely discouraging.
In front of the handful of fans not watching the Red Sox, four Celtics reached double figures in the 97-89 loss to the Raptors. Gerald Wallace (16 points) led the way, followed by Jared Sullinger (14 points, 6 rebounds), Avery Bradley (12 points) and Kris Humphries (11 points). Of course, other things happened, too.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Tough start: Let’s just say the introduction to the Brad Stevens Era defense wasn’t pretty. The Raptors grabbed an 8-0 lead, including a pair of uncontested Jonas Valanciunas dunks, and then stretched it to 14-2 against a starting lineup of Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.
No contest: The Celtics played everyone on the 14-man roster in the first half with the exception of Phil Pressey, and things didn’t get much better defensively. The Raptors shot 59.4 percent from the field and scored 53 points in the opening 24 minutes, including 26 in the paint and 10 on second chances. Somehow, only two of those 53 points came on the fast break, which means the half-court defense wasn’t so good.
Window watching: At halftime, the Celtics had six rebounds. Six. That’s one every four minutes. Their leading rebounder? Six guys with one apiece (four bigs, Gerald Wallace and Avery Bradley). Meanwhile, the Raptors had 22 boards at the break. Valanciunas had a half dozen, or as many as the entire Celtics roster combined. Things improved in the second half, but Toronto still out-rebounded the C’s 46-26 for the game.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Frontcourt depth: The first three non-guards off the bench — Wallace, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger — transformed the early 14-2 deficit into a three-point lead late in the first quarter. Olynyk’s passing game was the biggest surprise, as the rookie registered more assists (5) than the rest of his teammates (4) through the first two quarters.
Vitor FAVErani: The mystery behind the Brazilian big man landing in Boston and the unveiling of his mohawk during a glorious Media Day interview established Faverani as the Honorary Brian Scalabrine Award winner of this preseason (also known as the Greg Stiemsma Lifetime Achievement Award), and he didn’t disappoint in his Garden debut. In the 7-footer’s first three minutes, he threw down a breakaway dunk, poached a pair of steals, blocked a shot and set a handful of hard screens. Vitor is still the best.
Over the Hump: For all the off-the-court drama that has plagued Kris Humphries, he quietly showed up early in Boston (in great shape, too), served as a leader to the younger Celtics during pre-camp workouts, earned a starting spot out of camp and then drew a pair of charges early in the first preseason game. In other words, he’s motivated and could win over some Celtics fans this season. In related news, Humphries is in a contract year.
|Fab Melo: Celtics ‘didn’t give me a chance’||at 3:23 pm ET|
— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) October 7, 2013
Fab Melo is actually talking about practice. The Celtics didn’t give him a chance in practice, huh? Um, it’s practice Fabricio. Isn’t practice, by nature, a series of chances? And the Celtics gave Melo too many of them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw Bryan Doo shut down Melo on the block at the end of practice once.
The C’s spent a first-round pick on Melo and paid him $1.25 million for three rebounds. Or $418,240 per rebound. He’s 7 feet, and the Celtics needed big men last year like Tom Brady needs wide receivers. Desperately.
I suppose the Grizzlies didn’t give him a chance, either, since they waived him three weeks into his Memphis career. And once Melo cleared waivers, every other team joined that list of nonbelievers, too, except perhaps the Mavericks, who invited Melo to camp. See. Everybody gives 7-footers a chance. Just ask Eddy Curry.
At least Fab Melo has a long career ahead of him as the Leonard Maltin of Twitter:
|Kelly Olynyk doesn’t have a fork, shower curtain||10.04.13 at 3:35 pm ET|
Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk is keeping a diary for Comcast (h/t Celtics Life). In his first entry, we learn the young Canadian who Danny Ainge once called “a 7-foot hippy quarterback” doesn’t have a fork or a shower curtain.
“I’m basically starting from scratch out here. I don’t really know anyone, don’t have anything to my name out here, don’t even have a fork!
“I had to go and get everything, and I still need more. Sometimes I’ll be in my apartment and go to do something, and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t have a shower curtain! I have to take a bath?’ So I get in my car and drive to the practice facility and take a shower.”
|Doc Rivers: Clippers ‘should be better than’ ’08 Celtics||10.03.13 at 4:41 pm ET|
Here we go again. Former Celtics coach Doc Rivers thinks his Clippers are better than any team he’s coached. Here’s what he told ESPN LA (h/t Ball Don’t Lie) about Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan & Co.
“They should be better than any team I’ve ever coached, I really believe that. They’re more athletic. They don’t have the veteran IQ but they should be in that area. We have a couple individual defenders that can be dominating on defense. We have great speed but we don’t have the size in some ways as some of the teams I’ve coached.”
Hmm. I’m sure the Clippers will join the 2008 Celtics and Michael Jordan‘s 1990s Bulls as the only teams in NBA history to own an efficiency differential greater than 11 (outscoring opponents by 11 points per 100 possessions); they’ll start better than 8-0, take at least a 23-2 record into Christmas and finish better than 66-16; and they’ll go better than 13-1 at home in the playoffs and beat the Heat by 40 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, eclipsing the largest margin of victory in a title-clinching game — set, of course, by those pesky ’08 Celtics. No biggie.